Hello again ATS!
Please let me preface this by stating that as I write this OP my Moderator hat is off. As my mini-profile clearly states, my name is John... So please
accept that John is typing right now and the mantle of “Hefficide” is placed off to the side for a few minutes. I ask that you, Dear Reader,
please grant me this indulgence. As you will soon see, I am discussing an issue here that is very personal.
As many of you are aware, I have a psychiatric diagnosis. In fact I have an entire collection of them. This is something that I am open about at all
times and feel no shame about whatsoever. I have lived with my illnesses for roughly three decades and have made peace with my proverbial demons.
Several of my authored threads and countless of my previous posts speak to these issues, my history, and my feelings about the entire spectrum of
mental health issues, theories, and stigmas.
Today I feel compelled to address that last part... The stigma.
I took a hiatus away from ATS not too long ago as a means of resetting. After spending the better part of a year being logged on for hours and hours
almost every single day, I needed a break. I needed to clear my mental cache, as it were, so that I could regain perspective on the subjects that we
discuss here. I had, in effect, been on the front lines for too long and was starting to get a bit jumpy. I was beginning to burn out.
The sabbatical worked and I returned a couple of months ago recharged, refocused, and with my perspective much more centered. I returned with what I
hope is a much more sympathetic and less cynical mind set. It certainly feels to me like that is the case.
Having said that one issue here keeps seeking me out... finding me when I am not even looking for it.
The stigma. I find that I am seeing it more and more here and this troubles me.
Accusations of mental health issues seem to be becoming all the rage in the ad hominem culture. I am losing track of the times that I have opened a
thread only to discover that within the first few replies I see something like “You need to see a shrink”, or “Your posts are indicative of
schizophrenia”, or “Man, are you bipolar or something?”
You will understand it if these statements stick out to me... You see I am bipolar. I do see a shrink. And while I am not dissociative or
schizophrenic, I have known people who are. Good hearted people. In fact, since one in
five Americans had a mental health issue just in the year 2011
... I can only assume that just about every person who reads this has been
within one step of similar issues... Whether it be a relative, friend, neighbor, coworker... Nearly all of us have seen mental illness first hand.
Even if you have managed to live a life totally free of exposure to mental health issues, surely the media has initiated you into the subject to one
degree or another.
Given the universality of this issue... Why do some of us still feel it is OK to make light of it and even use it as a direct or backhanded insult to
At this point I would like to post some facts about mental illness:
Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person's thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just
as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the
ordinary demands of life.
Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post
traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.
Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of
character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their
symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.
Let me step out of the structure of this post for just one moment...
I have FIVE of the seven listed “Serious mental illnesses” ( All listed except borderline personality disorder and schizophrenia). I ask, do I
seem irrational or unintelligent? While I am somewhat afraid that some of my political forum opponents may feel a desire to jump in here to claim that
my liberal views are irrational - in their opinions (
) - such ideas fall less into the category of “delusion” and more into the realm of
“personal opinion and taste.”
Opinion and taste that is colored by decades of seeing sick people struggle in a system that does not quite know what to do with them.
One might read this post and just shrug me off as a thin-skinned person harping on their pet-boohoo subject. Those who are familiar with me know that
this is not the case. I actually have a backwards sense of pride about my issues – as the adversity I have faced over my life suggests that my
diagnoses should probably be way more involved than they actually are. Given my past, I am incredibly sane at this point and, like most guys, I kind
of dig my battle scars. I am always happy to own these things and discuss them – even with people who enter the conversation assuming that they've
found easy prey to pick on... easy scabs to break. It's just not that way at all.
Having said that... I am not the only person on ATS with a diagnosis and not everyone here is as accommodating and unscathed by these verbal barbs –
even when those barbs are directed at others. Try to relate it to something painful in your own world – anything... Maybe you have gray hair and dye
it, or one of your feet is a bit bigger than the other, or you have freckles, or you bite your nails, or you have a facial scar that stands out...
that you are self-conscious of... Now imagine if you saw THAT issue tabled time and time again and used as a tool of mockery and
Every single time such an ad hominem attack is made, assume that a person who really is mentally ill will read it and will feel a tinge of judgment
and alienation because of it. They will be hurt and they will be a little angry because they live, day to day, not just with the pain of their
illnesses... but also with the stigma of a world that does not understand mental illness and makes snap judgments about the subject that are
absolutely based in ignorance and a lack of understanding.
For example... such ad hominem attacks are most often framed to cast dispersions upon a posters intelligence, even though there is strong evidence
available to show that straight “A” students may be four times
likely to be bipolar
and that creativity and mental illness go hand in
edit on 8/5/13 by Hefficide because: BB tag